Shaughnessy has lots of ideas, and all of them are great. While earning an English degree, working as a writer, and then becoming a business analyst in state government, she learned to communicate ideas in various forms: blogs, confessional poetry, software requirements, user stories, ill-advised tweets, PowerPoint presentations, and occasionally JavaScript. Outside of work as a professional idea-haver at MojoTech, she likes to spend time with family, cook (with science), look through telescopes, sing at weddings, compete in triathlons (the short kind), and organize potluck dinners.

Check out the Q&A below to learn more about our newest Mojo!

Shaughnessy-Speirs

1. Where’d you get educated and what jobs led you to this role at MojoTech?

I earned a B.A. in English from Metro State University of Denver, became a freelance writer for several years before pursuing technical writing, and through an internship, found myself in a role in the Enterprise Applications section of the Governor’s Office of Information Technology. It was in that role that I learned how to collaborate with clients to understand their goals, recommend ways that technology could get them there, balance innovation with pragmatism, and coordinate various resources to get the (right) work done.

2. Before joining MojoTech, what was the most interesting project on which you worked?

I led a project to build an application to help the Governor’s Office staff conduct policy, legal, and fiscal analysis on proposed legislation. This helped them produce a memo for each bill advising the Governor to sign or veto. I learned a lot about the legislative process and I got to work on something that I knew would have a clear impact on the public, which was very validating.

3. What do you enjoy most about being a Product Manager?

I love solving problems, brainstorming ideas, and helping cool stuff get built.

4. What do you feel are the personal characteristics necessary to be a successful PM?

Excellent communication skills, inexhaustible curiosity, and vulnerability.

5. What do you get out of being a PM that you couldn’t get from any other kind of work?

I like having the opportunity to balance my creative and analytical sides. Being in this role is intellectually exhilarating.

6. Describe a problem you confronted that really tested your know-how.

I think one of the most valuable things a PM should know how to do is cope with “not knowing” - unforeseen risks, complexities, and complications - and still managing a good relationship with the client that takes those uncertainties into account. In my last role, I worked on a project to help replace an aging FTP server without any documentation or visibility into who was still using it, a task that we accomplished with minimal disruption because we employed a relentless communication strategy. I have found that being honest and forthright in communication is critical in surfacing and mitigating risks and managing stakeholder expectations.

7. Now that you’re at MojoTech, what are you most excited about?

Aside from the variety of projects, wicked smart people, and friendly canine mascots, I’m excited about the learning potential.

8. To which professionals do you turn, and what do you read for inspiration?

I’ve read some work by Eric Ries, Ben Horowitz, and Marty Cagan. Though I must say I am more of a podcast person! I enjoy This Is Product Management, Note to Self, StartUp, and Planet Money, among many others.

9. You’ve been banished to a deserted island with — gasp — no wifi, but lots of power outlets. What one piece of technology would you bring?

My telescope. No power outlet necessary, and I feel like the light pollution wouldn’t be an issue.

10. What technology is going to take over the world next?

Machine learning and artificial intelligence might make some waves here or there.

11. If you weren’t a Product Manager, what occupation would you choose?

I would love to start my own business or nonprofit.

12. What is your idea of happiness?

Driving into the mountains with my family, looking at my son’s art, lake swimming, whiskey on the rocks, and cooking big dinners for friends and family.

13. The red pill or the blue pill?

The red pill. Knowing is better than not knowing.